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FIFA World Cup 2014: Croatia leave for Brazil with big hopes

Posted By: IANS
FIFA World Cup 2014: Croatia leave for Brazil with big hopes
Zagreb, June 3: The Croatian national football team left for Brazil early Tuesday morning hoping to do big in the FIFA World Cup starting next week.

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Few supporters turned up at the Zagreb Airport to cheer for the team, reports Xinhua. Even the players looked sleepy as they stepped out of the team bus.

"You can see that this is not a normal situation for the guys but they will have time to sleep on the plane. It's a long flight to Brazil," coach Niko Kovac said before the flying off to Lisbon, from where they would get the connecting flight to Salvador in Brazil.

Kovac was already thinking about the next few days before the team's last preparation match against Australia Friday in Salvador. Interesting, Croatia played a friendly match against Socceroos before the 1998 World Cup and beat Australia 7-0.

"That was in 1998. Today's football is different. You have to work hard to beat anybody just by one goal," the Croatian coach said.

Still, it will be a good omen if Croatians beat Australians again. It will give them a psychological boost before the World Cup opener against Brazil.

"We will have a few days of light practices because we have to get used to the Brazilian climate. Then we'll take on Australia and after that we will turn our focus to the match against Brazil," he said.

This is the match that every player dreams of playing.

"I still don't have the lineup for the match against Brazil. We will give a chance to majority of our players against Australia and will decide about the lineup for Brazil."

"We know everything about the Brazilian team. They will play two more friendly matches that we will analyze and see if they did some changes. Personally, I don't expect to see anything new," Kovac added.

But it's not only Brazil that Kovac must worry about.

"I watched Cameroon play against Germany. The result shows that Cameroon is a very strong team because it's not easy to draw in Germany. I was saying from the beginning that we have a very difficult group and this result just confirms that."

Croatia will play Cameroon in Manaus in tough weather conditions June 18 and five days later will take on Mexico in a match that could be decisive for both teams. Kovac had to leave a few injured players at home and Mexicans had similar problems.

"Mexicans lost two players in their last two or three matches and that can be a handicap for them. But they have a strong team and I am sure they will find players that can substitute the injured ones."

Most of all, the Croatian coach has to take care of his team. So far, he did a good job. There is a general feeling this Croatian generation have quality to achieve something big but no one in the team wants to say it out loud what would that be. When he was asked about the atmosphere in the team, Kovac used only one word to describe it: "Fantastic."

This is how confident he is that he picked the right guys to the job. If you ask him what that job would be he will look you in the eye and answer without hesitation - to make every Croatian proud.


Story first published: Tuesday, June 3, 2014, 16:30 [IST]
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